Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Clematis, Iris and Metal Wigwams

The roses may be nearly over but Japanese iris - purple ones near the purple gate (a happy accident) - and clematis are flowering profusely.

Some of the clematis I bought last year were in 20cm (8-inch) pots and they romped up their supports like there was no tomorrow. I'm delighted with these supports: 2 metal wigwams, each placed centrally in a cut-flower bed, with a very simple design to link to the rough teatree tripods within the adjacent edible patch. Something fancy would have looked out of place.

Some of the clematis are C. viticella hybrids: dainty, sweet.
Nearby, I've added a Clematis viticella cultivar, a pale one, to my chicken run, too, to give my girls some summer shade, and discovered something 25 years late. I worked in a retail plant nursery a life time ago for nearly a year and well-remember tying up climbers: I was taught not to trim them, but to loop them and tie them up. Well, I've finally bought one just like this, unravelled the vine carefully and dang me, I've got a 2m high climber already (that's taller than me!) and while a lot of the vine is woody, to my surprise I didn't harm it when I untangled it; no, I have a healthy, instantly tall plant. All those years of doubt...answered. Now to remove the last of the woody, dead and oh so enormous kiwi plant (not my choice) which blankets the run - now a skeleton, it waves metres above the run.
As usual the clematis plants in the cut-flower beds were carefully chosen for colour: pink and whites on one hexapod (amid pink and white cut flowers - white Narcissus and pink and white lilies etc), and blues and white for the other (amid bluebells, yellow Narcissus, white belladonna lilies).

To complete it, there's a row of huge, silver-leaf plants of globe artichokes behind each bed; I love the look of these when they're in full leaf. My problem is I like even my cut flower beds to look good all the time - it's a tall order, isn't it? 

Jill Weatherhead is horticulturist, writer, garden designer and principal at Jill Weatherhead Garden Design who lives in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, and works throughout Victoria (

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